Contrary to the claims of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D.-N.Y.), U.S. military recruits are not poorer and less well educated than their contemporaries. Quite the opposite is true. They tend to be better off and better educated.
In fact, as the Iraq War has continued, enlistments have declined from poorer neighborhoods, while increasing from middle-class neighborhoods.
Tim Kane, Ph.D., director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics, has studied the demographic trends among recruits in periods both before and after the war. The data he collected are represented in the charts below. They show that enlistees in the U.S. military generally reflect the U.S. population as a whole, and that it is the great American middle class that forms the backbone of the U.S. military.